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The first robot suicide

November 21, 2013 2:22 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

At least that’s what hysterical media reports would have you believe. The standard account goes something like this – tired of doing its master’s bidding (er, cleaning), an iRobot Roomba 760 made history by committing the first robot suicide. The poor guy chose an especially gruesome way to kick the bucket, committing self-immolation by driving itself onto a kitchen hotplate....

3D-printed metal guns are nothing to worry about

November 11, 2013 4:24 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Well, it was bound to happen. A company has finally succeeded in fabricating a wholesale 3D-printed metal gun. But this should cause considerably less hand-wringing than the “Liberator” and its follow-up, the “Grizzly”. To quote the Hitchhiker’s Guide, don’t panic.

Should we use drones to prevent animal abuse?

November 11, 2013 11:06 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Hunters beware: PETA may be watching you – or rather, its “customers” will if they purchase a specially modified Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 to “spy on hunters and catch them in the act as they terrorize animals and break game laws.” The animal-rights organization introduced the “Air Angels” drone on its site in an effort to cut down on “illegal” hunting activities or anything it deems immoral....

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We finally have drones with "frickin’ laser beams"

November 5, 2013 4:43 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Dr. Evil would be proud. Lasers have always been the next frontier (some would say pipe dream) of weapons development. But recent developments have brought Sci-Fi closer to reality. And now this — the Pentagon has awarded a total of $26 million to defense contractors to develop a laser countermeasures system for manned and unmanned aircraft.

This hypersonic Blackbird can launch weapons from space

November 4, 2013 3:43 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In aviation, it doesn’t get more chic than the SR-71 Blackbird, the Rolls Royce of the sky. From 1964 till its retirement in 1998, this supersonic, Mach 3+ reconnaissance aircraft played a crucial role in the Cold War (and afterward) for over three decades. But ever since the Blackbird went to the Boca Raton of the skies, aviation buffs have been pining for a successor. And now they have one. And it’s glorious.

Should the government regulate Google Glass?

October 31, 2013 4:22 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Every new technology or consumer widget must inevitably run headfirst into the regulatory powers of government — often in conjunction with automotive safety. So this was no surprise: San Diego police have pulled over a motorist and ticketed her for wearing Google Glass, touching off the latest battle between federal legislators and the private sector.

WWII vet screws with the TSA

October 25, 2013 4:49 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

If you haven’t met the TSA – meaning you somehow haven’t flown anywhere in the last 12 years – know that they’re the crotch-grabbing, nude-scanning, senior-citizen harassing government agency in charge of airport security. And they really hate shoes. But the mighty TSA has apparently met its match in an 87-year-old, half-deaf World War II vet.

Board game indoctrinates kids on global warming

October 24, 2013 10:23 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

I’m torn here. As a child’s toy, MELTDOWN – the “first board game that melts” – is extremely clever. I probably would’ve loved playing with the cute little polar bears and fake ice floes. But I can’t ignore the transparent attempt to indoctrinate children on the theory – yes, the theory – of global warming.

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Are we addicted to smartphones?

October 22, 2013 4:13 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor, Photography by Melissa Spivak | Blogs | Comments

Do you own a “Crackberry” or, god forbid, an iPhone? Is it always within arms’ reach, and do you compulsively check it every 5-10 minutes? Do you scour your smartphone with no clear purpose in mind? And do you have a strong desire to resist this “constant connectivity”? You may be experiencing “pushback”, according to a new paper from the University of Washington. But is this a symptom of smartphone "addiction"?

This women’s makeup can launch drones

October 16, 2013 2:06 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

At long last – this red-blooded American male might finally wear makeup. And no, this isn’t an “admission” of sorts. But the ability to control electronics with metallized false eyelashes and conducting eyeshadow could simplify my life and improve my fashion sense.

Is the F-35 a “great national scandal”?

October 15, 2013 1:16 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In government, the left hand often doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing. Case in point: Days after the DoD got all warm-and-fuzzy over its working relationship with Lockheed Martin and the F-35, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) called the Joint Strike Fighter “one of the great national scandals.”

Watch “Star Wars” recreated using an Etch a Sketch

October 14, 2013 2:18 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The force is strong with this one. I was never very skilled with an Etch a Sketch. And it’s not just my complete lack of artistic ability – my hands are steady as a coffee junkie (small wonder I didn’t become a doctor). But this guy is good – very, very good. Using nothing more than a garden-variety Etch a Sketch, he creates a complete recap of “Star Wars”, and it’s glorious.

Why the U.S. sucks at math

October 9, 2013 4:47 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

No doubt about it – we're failing our children. We take it for granted that American children lag behind the rest of the world in STEM literacy: In a recent survey, U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 25th out of 34 developed countries in mathematics. We also assume that kiddies are born with a natural affinity for math and science. But what if STEM literacy isn’t an innate skill? What if it can be taught?

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Watch dead batteries power smartphones

October 8, 2013 2:02 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

When we speak of “reanimating the dead”, we usually don’t mean dead batteries. And we certainly don’t harness these used electrochemical cells – Frankenstein-style – into a giant, mutated power station. Yet that’s exactly what Thailand’s Vitamilk did by resurrecting a battalion of dead batteries and channeling their energy to power small electronics....

This dating website caters to ghosts

October 4, 2013 10:08 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Who says being dead has to kill your love life? Yes, a dating website actually caters to ghosts, because of course it does....and no, this isn’t a joke (at least in the sense that the website actually exists). The Internet’s limitless potential for putting the sum total of humanity’s accumulated knowledge at a keystroke has the incidental effect of uniting lonely singles who prefer niche preferences, but ethereal spirits? That’s a new one.

Top 10 must-see stories for September

October 3, 2013 3:30 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments. Keep checking out the Lead at www.ecnmag.com and follow us on Twitter @ecnonline for our most up-to-date articles.

This office-training parody will make you nostalgic for the '80s

October 1, 2013 2:50 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Ah, the ‘80s ... the Cold War was winding down, Arnold Schwarzenegger was terminating box office receipts, and hokey office-training videos were at their peak. Grasshopper – a company that provides entrepreneurs with virtual phone systems – captured all that and more in their parody/viral marketing campaign, the “Epic 80s Entrepreneur Training Video.”

Watch a sniper rifle obliterate an iPhone 5S

September 26, 2013 1:41 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Some people have waaaaaaaay too much money to burn. Take, for example, this guy, who likes to film himself destroying popular consumer devices with high-powered rifles. His latest victim: a Gold iPhone 5S, which he annihilates with a Barrett M82A1 .50 sniper rifle.

Check out dogs frolicking in "Bullet Time"

September 25, 2013 12:07 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

If this doesn’t warm your heart, then I’d check your pulse. Remember that cool “Bullet Time” visual effect from The Matrix (and about a dozen other movies and video games since)? A handful of amateur filmmakers used the technique to film dogs at play, and it’s every bit as delightful as it sounds.

Lego releases female in STEM career ... and she’s no “Lady Scientist”

September 16, 2013 2:23 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

It seems the Danish toy brick conglomerate has finally accepted the fact that womenfolk inhabit the STEM fields. Earlier this month, Lego released the company’s first female scientist, Professor C. Bodin – and she’s not clad in "girly" clothing or given the patronizing title of "Lady Scientist."

Has global cooling begun? Arctic ice caps grow by 60% in a year

September 11, 2013 11:21 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The arctic will be "ice-free by 2013." This was typical of the breathless pronouncements made by scientists, climatologists, and even NASA over the last decade or so. All the while, the summers were getting colder and the ice caps more voluminous — quite a bit more, apparently. According to a report in the Daily Mail, the Arctic ice cap grew by nearly a million square miles from 2012-2013, an increase of 60% year over year.

Women in the workplace: The 1940s guide to gender stereotypes

September 9, 2013 2:11 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Watch out for women in the workplace. They’re jealous of each other, more sensitive than men, and SCARY! At least that’s according to this hilariously outdated instructional video from 1944 which probably did more to perpetuate gender stereotypes than shore them up.

"Internet addiction" is a real disease ... according to new inpatient facility

September 4, 2013 4:57 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Waste lots of time on the Internet looking at cat pictures and playing Minecraft? You should immediately fork over $14K to an inpatient facility in Pennsylvania — the first of its kind in the US – to treat your chronic internet addiction. Don’t believe that Internet addiction is a real disease? Shows your ignorance — you obviously don’t have a “Dr.” in front of your name.

Top 10 must-read posts from August

September 3, 2013 11:17 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments. Keep checking out the Lead at www.ecnmag.com and follow us on Twitter @ecnonline for our most up-to-date articles.

Do we need tougher cyberbullying legislation?

August 23, 2013 4:25 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

A Huffington Post article draws attention to a disturbing new form of cyberbullying: “RIP trolling”, or the practice of trolling online memorials to mock their alleged insincerity. The article champions “digital proxies” who can help filter out distressing online content for the mourners. This also raises an important point: Do we need stricter cyberbullying legislation?

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